Hey Guys, it’s Kat and I’m here to talk to you about BLACK FACE.
In light of recent controversies, the YouTube community has taken to calling out problematic youtubers. I’m a huge fan of this as I’ve seen very popular youtubers profit from the perpetuation of things like sexism, racism and transphobia.
Now, let me start out by saying this: I don’t blame most people for not understanding the implications and the history of black face. Growing up being taught a whitewashed version of history a lot of the atrocities that came from racism in this country have been down played and in a lot of cases completely removed from text books.
Black face is something that not only manifested on small back alley southern stages, It was and still is international. It was on Broadway, The Silver Screen and even has a long history in Music.
It’s a part of our culture a lot of people want to ignore, but I believe we need to talk about because it DOES still impact black people to this day.
Blackface is something that was so popular that there are several children’s cartoons that feature black face characters.
In this video we’ll be focusing on Warner Brother’s Snow White Parody, Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarfs.
Bob Clampet’s Coal Black and Sebben Dwarfs is 1 of 11 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies films that were censored in 1968 called the censored Eleven
I’ll be using characters in this film to frame racist some archetypes commonly found in Black Face productions.
First we’ve got the Evil Queen. The evil Queen in this film portrays the most popular of the black stock character,The Mammy.
The Mammy archetype is morbidly obese and often portrayed with large breasts. Despite these breasts she is seen as sexually undesirably, in fact she’s regarded as quite traditionally masculine in her demeanor.
In Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarfs she is in fact voiced by a man.
The Mammy is illiterate, loud and violent towards her own children, yet welcoming and warm towards the white children she was made to wet nurse.
The mammy will bake a plate of warm pancakes for white soldiers but feed her children scraps.
Then we’ve got So White who in the title is referred to as Coal Black. So White is the Jezebel.
The Jezebel is hypersexualized. She is seen as the polar opposite of a proper white woman. She exemplifies the idea that black women are more sexually available. She is portrayed as immoral, ditsy and willing to accept and appreciate any sex that comes her way, be it by her own will or by force.
So White is lusted after by every man in the film and never quite settles for one.
Then we have Prince Charming who in this story is Prince Chawmin. Prince Chawmin is the Zip Coon.
The Zip Coon adorns himself with proper clothing and is arrogant in his demeanor. Despite dressing like a wealthy man, his lack of intellect undermines him. He is portrayed as essentially a man who is putting on airs. Not quite being able to maintain an air of high class, he is seen and treated like an animal in man’s clothing.
Finally, we have the Sebben Dwarves.
They are the Sambo.
The Sambo are pickininines, unkempt black children usually depicted as having knotted hair and large lips that can often be seen gulping Watermelon.
Sambo are often depicted as foolishly placing themselves into dangerous situations. Most popularly hanging from trees playfully as tigers roar at them from below. They’re also popularly seen near swamps near alligators and affectionately referred to as “alligator bait”.
This is only scraping the surface of black face characterizations overall. At the time this film was produced (1942), it was considered to be quite progressive considering the inclusion of black voice actors as well as musicians.
You can watch the full version of the film here
So why is blackface harmful?
Blackface is harmful because these characters and these stereotypes were created by white people as a means of defining and dehumanizing black people.
Blackface is to African Americans as Traditional Shakespearean theater was to women. Black people were not allowed to perform on the same stage as white performers.This means that whenever there was a black character in production, black actors were not cast. Instead they opted for white actors in black face.And these black characters were never meant to be portrayed as sympathetic characters. They were always either comedic relief or villains.
The archetypes I described have been reproduced and perpetuated to the point where when black actors were eventually allowed to portray themselves they almost never veered away from these stock characters.
Hattie McDaniel was the first black woman to win an Oscar for her Role in Gone with the Wind in 1940. What was her role?
Her character was literally named Mammy. She was a phenomenal actress whose roles in film were almost exclusively that of the Mammy archetype.
So what happens when a white comedian dawns dark makeup in order to portray a black character for laughs?
It conjures old feelings and perpetuates the history of white actors darkening their skin to dehumanize black people.
Black Face has been used to make arguments for slavery and why African Americans should have limited human rights.
These are narratives created by white men that were made to oppress and dehumanize an entire race. So when white men are still perpetuating these tropes in 2014 and getting paid for it, it’s not going to sit well with many people in the black community.
OH BUT WHAT ABOUT WHITE FACE??
You literally can’t compare white face to black face because white face has never limited the options of white actors nor did it seek to represent them in a world that under represents them.
White face is generally criticism, while black face is degradation.
When Dave Chapelle dawns light makeup and does the hip hop news break he’s making commentary on race and class. He’s parodying racist white men who will passively make racist comments, while not wanting to be seen as racists.
When the Wayans Brothers went undercover as two white blonde twin sisters it was, again, a commentary on race and class. Half of the jokes in the film depend on the idea that these two black men are from a lower income and class and they’re trying to maintain the air of women who are from a higher income and class and they often fail.
What needs to be understood is that this isn’t a “two wrongs don’t make a right” scenario because we are at a point in society where we are equal.Equality doesn’t come with one black president out of the 43 white ones before him. Keep in mind, America is only 248 years old.
Black face, demonstrably has been used to dehumanize black people and has subsequently lead to perpetuation of institutionalized racism. What are the repercussions of white face? What rights were denied to white people because Chapelle or the Wayans brothers wore white face?
The best comedy punches upwards towards the established structure of power, not downwards at oppressed classes.There’s a reason why black people object to black face and it’s because of it’s history. It’s not just the makeup, it’s what happened and continues to happen because of it.
When your only exposure to black narratives are white men in dark makeup, your understanding of black people, let alone the racism black people face is going to be very distorted.So in this conversation, please understand that white people do not get to decide whether or not something is offensive or oppressive to people of color.
At the end of the day, I, as a black woman have to live with these stereotypes. So you can of course have an opinion about black face, but honestly if you don’t live with it then realize that that’s privilege and that the opinions of people who live with racism are going to give you a better understanding of this issue at hand.
Honestly, I hate being that angry black girl. I would love to feel like I’m over reacting but I feel like people need to understand why these conversations and altercations occur. I don’t want to live in a world where these things are still issues. But these conversations are so important and will help us get there one day.
We all make mistakes and like I said, I almost don’t blame people for not understanding the implications of black face. I just hope that these conversations will make people a bit more aware.
We have to accept that there are certain things that we’ve been socialized to accept that are problematic. We need to make the conscious decision to more forward and do better.
So on THAT note thank you guys so much for watching. I put a lot of effort into this video so if you liked it, please share it. And as usual, Always remember and never forget that YOU are beautiful and you are loved. <3
This is from March of 1989 and was on the #3 rated show in the country. I’m having a hard time imagining anything similar today because so many people are committed to the myth that this lesson has been learned.
I agree that we wouldn’t see this on TV today but not for those reasons. It’s not because TV executives think rape culture is over. They wouldn’t show it because they want to make as much money as humanly possible and there is a belief, an incorrect and misguided belief, that you can’t say things like this and attract a wide audience. It’s the same principle that eradicated all the great black sitcoms from the 90s including shows like this one. Remember Moesha, The Fresh Prince, Martin, The Wayans, Living Single, Sister Sister, The Arsenio Hall Show? Remember their multi-faceted portrayals of blackness? They’re gone and wouldn’t see the light of day in this “golden era” of television. In the 90s, networks like Fox, for instance, needed to make money and were in the position to take risks. We got UPN, the CW, WB. All these great outlets for entertainment, and I hesitate to say “black” entertainment because these shows were loved by everyone. They were made by us (which is huge) and for us, but they didn’t feel as limiting as say a Tyler Perry movie. But once big money started to roll in and networks started to perk up, they didn’t need us anymore. It became harder for black television and filmmakers to find jobs behind the scenes. If there are no black voices, all that multifaceted goodness just goes down the drain. And let’s not forget the FCC and how they rule with an arbitrary, puritanical, iron fist. In governing the networks, they too are responsible for limited discourse and representation like this scene here. Anyway, I’m rambling. But you get the picture. Networks are well aware of the issues, but if it’s not going to make them money then they aren’t going to talk about it. When they believe defeating rape culture is cool again, they’ll talk about it. When they believe black people on screen will make them money, like in say Basketball Wives, The Real House Wives, The Bad Girls Club (in all their ratchet glory) they’ll cast them. But until then, we are shit out of luck.
Everything about this is perfect from the gifset to the extremely on point commentary by @see-linewoman about networks and the way TV works and how black culture is blatantly exploited for ratings. Don’t be a complacent viewer. Learn to discern!
Charlie Sheen smokes crack live in a web-chat and they make him the highest paid actor on television.
An 18-year-old black person smokes a blunt and he is unfit to live.
I see you white power."
Comedian Greg Blackshear (via sonofbaldwin)
Not to mention Rob Ford still being allowed to hold office after admitting to a crack addiction and alcoholism, tackling a representative, etc.
white women of hollywood, reducing japan and japanese culture to cupcakes, sexy ”costumes” and submissive sex-kittens since god knows when
It is interesting that in the 10-year span between Gwen Stefani and 'her Harajuku girls' to Lavigne’s embarrassing Hello Kitty video, people seem to have become more vocally reactionary to this level of racism-fail.
OTOH, it might also be because the public’s always harboured a sort of low-level disdain for the entire entertainment persona of Avril Lavigne. So this idiotic video is exactly the downfall the public was looking for to tear her down. People love finding SOME reason to tear down celebrity women, after all. Avril handed hers to the public herself.
Whereas Gwen Stefani has always been hailed as a musical artist worthy of respect and admiration, so her Orientalism and racism sailed on by with barely any critique in 2004. I remember that she was actually praised in interviews, while she continually treated the ‘Harajuku girls’ like mindless non-human props.
And then there’s Katy Perry, whose entire act is touting how much she’s chock-full of irony and greater understanding of parody!!! The public buys into this falsehood and therefore her staged edginess gives her a ‘free pass’ to be racist. For the sake of ‘irony’!!
So yeah the idea that ‘your fave is problematic’ is something more people need to think about and understand. Ten years of this bullshit and nothing’s changed.
Today marks the anniversary of FDR signing executive order 9066, which authorized the “indefinite detention” of nearly 150,000 people on American soil.
The order authorized the Secretary of War and the U.S. Army to create military zones “from which any or all persons may be excluded.” The order left who might be excluded to the military’s discretion. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt inked his name to EO9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, it opened the door for the roundup of some 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese citizens living along the west coast of the U.S. and their imprisonment in concentration camps. In addition, between 1,200 and 1,800 people of Japanese descent watched the war from behind barbed wire fences in Hawaii. Of those interned, 62 percent were U.S. citizens. The U.S. government also caged around 11,000 Americans of German ancestry and some 3,000 Italian-Americans.
cannot stress the horror enough.
This happened in Canada as well. It was a racist decision to forcibly strip Japanese-Canadians of their land and property and of their livelihood via fear-mongering propaganda. In the end, these interned Japanese-Canadians lost everything because white Canadians wanted to have it all. White Canadians wanted to purposely deny non-white Canadians any rights to land, wealth, power, humanity and freedom.
EXCERPT:Sadly, taking part in international aid where you aren’t particularly helpful is not benign. It’s detrimental. It slows down positive growth and perpetuates the “white savior” complex that, for hundreds of years, has haunted both the countries we are trying to ‘save’ and our (more recently) own psyches. Be smart about traveling and strive to be informed and culturally aware.
Why I Stopped Being A Voluntourist
- and find surprise!racism on my dash.
it’s too fucking early for this, I haven’t even had coffee. I dunno what to do. I know ‘the right thing’ is to speak to the person privately about it (I’m sorta online fandomy friends with them and it’s obviously a case of ignorant racist reblogging and they are someone I /want/ to interact with further) but I’m already anticipating the white supremist tirade of ‘well that wasn’t my intent’ and ’why are you calling me a racist, you’re the racist for calling me racist’ and - my favourite - ‘we don’t have that here and therefore it’s not racist, it’s just funny’.
maybe in a few hours I’ll be able to say something. in the meantime, I’ll just walk around with surprise!racism cloud over my head.
Bim Adewunmi, in a moving editorial for The Guardian (UK)
I’m trying to imagine how white supremacists would argue against this. ‘Make your own, then’? Oh right. Because the solution to having a top-heavy white network and movie execs, producers, writers, directors etc is to segregate media and the audience consuming it.
This is a really really good article.
|When POC characters are turned white:||this isin't about race, if you think it is then you're the racist one, lets just enjoy the book/film as it is, this is about the character's personality god you're so sensitive, the new skin tone actually fits the character's personality IMO, I never imagined them as POC anyway, not all whitewashing is racist god get over it!!111|
|When white characters are turned into POC:||omg how could they!?!?!? this is soooo racist and unfair! why cant they present that white character as WHITE, how dare they change the original skin color to suit their own terms! this is reverse racism!! this is about race! I NEVER imaged that white character to be a POC that is so weird, it doesn't fit, this is political correctness gone crazy!!|
|When POC characters stay POC but readers/viewers imagined them as white:||THIS IS SO WRONG. This isn't how they looked. i don't care what it says in the booooook because i imagined they lookd different. ugh the film is ruined now. Ruined.|
Yes, the casting call for Katniss specified “Caucasian only” even though Katniss is racially ambiguous, and arguably, the story would have more political resonance if she were played by a woman of color. Many children of color looked up to Katniss as a rare role model that actually looked like them.
Sadly, it is naïve to think that the people and stories we see in the media are selected based on talent and merit alone. It just doesn’t work that way. We live in a racist society. And by racist, I don’t mean individual acts of meanness. I mean we live in a society that systematically privileges Whiteness.
This is off-topic, but I think the Trayvon Martin case gives a good example of how racism works in our society. George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin because he was a racist. That’s an individual action. But the way that the police and the media responded - by giving Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt, by letting him walk free, by criticizing Trayvon for wearing a hoodie - that shows the deeper, systematic racism that works on a political level.
And that is the kind of institutional racism that excludes people of color from participating in the media, from getting their stories told, from auditioning for major roles. It’s not just about who is more talented or suited for an individual role, it’s about how the system denies access to talented PoC from even having a fair or equal chance in the first place. Representation matters.
Jennifer Lawrence is incredibly talented, and she is also a rising star. It was a smart choice for the studio. But it also sends a message, that yet again, mainstream audiences cannot be expected to identify with a WoC protagonist. Viola Davis, an amazingly talented actress, simply cannot find roles because they are not written for women of color. And even in racially neutral roles, like the role of Katniss, they are excluded. The makeup artists had to actually darken the skin and hair of Jennifer Lawrence to make her look more like the book description. The studio would rather do that, than actually cast a WoC.
Here is another good post about some of the racism involved in the casting process for THG. I also suggest clicking on the links that I’ve provided, they are pretty informative.
Hope that helps.
A screenshot from Racebending.com’s most recent article on blackface and the Oscars, showcasing the differential impact of different casting practices on different groups. Click here to read the entire article: Academy Awards 2012: Putting Blackface in Context.
This is a great article and you should read it.
These are, for the sake of space, paraphrased versions of the original arguments that I’ve seen floating around the internet, and some have been reworded to make them clearer. Included is my own commentary on why exactly each is racist, although most of them don’t need much explanation.
I talk about a couple character deaths in here, but I don’t think that really needs spoiler warning for a book that warns you on the BOOK JACKET that pretty much everyone dies. If you’re still worried about spoilers, don’t read ahead!
Here’s the thing. Rue and Thresh were made black for a very specific reason. Even though the books are not about race, they are there to show that race is still very much an issue in this world. Almost the entirety of District 11 is black, and they’re forced to do all agricultural duties (which mirrors some of the most evil parts of America’s history). So in this case, it doesn’t really matter whether you PICTURED the characters as black, because they were all-but-explicitly described as such, and there was a REASON for it. The difference between casting Rue and Thresh as black and casting a traditionally white character like Sgt. Nick Fury as black is that there is no reason Nick Fury CAN’T be played by Samuel L. Jackson. There’s no reason the character SHOULDN’T be black. Rue and Thresh, however, have EVERY reason to be cast as black, because their race has a message behind it. If you whitewash these characters, you’re losing one of the major points behind District 11, which is to show that the Capitol isn’t above that kind of racism. And the fact is, the casting of this movie isn’t done to please you. It’s done to tell the story the way the author intended it, and if you whitewash those roles, you’re removing part of her story.
And yet, from the same people:
So when the actor in question is black, playing a black character, you should have instead cast a white actor to “please more people,” but when the actor is white, playing a non-white character, the actor’s race doesn’t matter as long as they’re a good actor? This isn’t Lawrence Olivier playing Othello, people. This is trying to whitewash roles in which it is important to the story for them to be black, just because you personally didn’t pick up on the way they were described.
I already did a long post on this one, explaining how it’s a bit racist to think a black guy with an afro CAN’T be charming and handsome, and very prejudicial to say that with an Afro, he doesn’t look “Normal” enough to play Cinna, even though an Afro is the normal, natural way his hair grows.
It doesn’t, though, is the thing. “White” is not the default race for all people. Collins went out of her way to make sure Cinna could be perceived as any race. In his case, it doesn’t matter what race he is. He’s the catalyst for the entire revolution, arguably the most important character in the entire series, and it’s good that you don’t know what race he is, because that’s not what matters about him.
However, in a movie form, it’s impossible to make someone completely racially ambiguous unless you hide them completely (think V for Vendetta), because you have to have an actual actor stand in there, and that associates the actor’s race with the character’s. Which brings me back to the original point, “racially ambiguous” does not mean the same thing as “white.” A white person isn’t raceless, and so a raceless character should not NECESSARILY be cast as white. I’m not saying you CAN’T cast a white actor in the role, it just shouldn’t be taken as read that if you don’t know what race a character is, they should automatically be white. If you don’t know what race a character is, it shouldn’t matter what race the actor is.
First, I would like to direct everyone to something called the “Clark Doll experiment.” For those of you who don’t know, the Doll Test was a psychological experiment done in the 1940s in which children, both black and white, were seated at a table with two baby dolls, identical in every way except one: one was black and one was white. The children were then asked which doll they would like to play with (and why), and which doll was “the good doll” and “the bad doll” (again, and why). The children almost always selected the white doll to play with, labeled it the good doll, and called the black doll “the bad doll.” When asked why, the answers were almost all racial: the good doll was good because it was white, and the bad doll was bad because it was black. The test was repeated in 2006 with the exact same results.
However, some of you may be thinking “maybe the girl actually does look devious. Some little kids are mischievous trouble-makers, and that doesn’t have anything to do with race, that’s just kids being playful. Let’s make sure by taking a look at the girl in question:
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph Christ! That is the sweetest little girl I have ever seen. “Devious” may be in the bottom 10 words I would use to describe this girl. She looks like she’d feel guilty if she took two candies out of a halloween bucket that said “take one.” If you asked me to describe this girl in three words, it would be “sweet,” “innocent,” and “Rue.” It is tearing me up inside right now knowing that I am going to have to watch this little angel die. I just don’t see how anyone could look at that little girl and think “devious” without some kind of discriminatory component. That just baffles my mind.
I do want to point out that these are all actual reactions I’ve seen people have to this casting. Sure, I rephrased them to make sure they fit on the picture, but they haven’t really been altered all that much.
By the way, I can totally understand if people don’t like Lenny Kravitz because of his acting skill. That’s a fair objection to have, not everyone likes every actor. However, when you more or less come out and say “I am against it because he is black,” you lose the right to complain when someone calls you racist.
Wow, I’m getting The Last Airbender flashbacks all over again. The same damn arguments every single time. Still framed in the ‘bawwww it’s so unfair that white people aren’t cast as everyone, forever, always, bawwwwww’ whine. Still with the ‘non-white people shouldn’t be cast in mainstream movies!’ whine. Still with the ‘I dunno, non-white people just look…weird and not right for these characters as I evnisioned them in my head’ whine.
All the decades of trying to get equal and fair media representation for PoC? Has to fight with what’s above, all the time. Networks and publishers and producers and executives cater only to the lowest common denominator in order to maximize the greatest profit. And the lowest common denominator is racist and proud of it.
i used to like it. it made me feel special. before i realized that it actually means you are deviant from “normal”. and that the unspoken “norm” you are set up against happens to be a white one…
YES. I HATE IT SO MUCH. I….SPIT ON IT.
After three years of working on Racebending.com I am not sure if I should be excited by how fiercely and rapidly the fandom can and will break down why the film was problematic, or sad that years and years later, the same excuses and apologetics get trotted out over and over.
It’s hard, sometimes, to stand in a sea of A:TLA fandom and not know if I am surrounded by supporters of our efforts to fight discrimination in entertainment media, or people who view this subversion as traitorous to our fandom identity. Apparently, the good fan is docile, and “calms down” and doesn’t clog the Korra tag with ‘frivolous’ or ‘irrelevant’ commentary. Even if the commentary is about a serious thing that happened to a franchise we all love. Even if media critique is an essential part of fandom.
The reality is that the “The Last Airbender” film replicated the same oppressions and casting barriers faced by Bruce Lee. It replicated the same systemic discriminations—systemic racism, yes, racism—that Mako Iwamatsu, the late voice actor of Uncle Iroh, spent his entire career fighting. I cannot presume to speak for the dead, but I am reasonably certain both of them would have supported the fans against the casting, were they still alive. Or perhaps they would have been saddened to see these casting patterns still happening, and the people still denying, in 2010?
The Mako that Korra’s Mako is named after spoke out directly against these practices. Would you dare tell him that he was “too sensitive”? Would you tell Bruce Lee he was “making a big deal out of nothing?” Yet, merely having to scroll past those speaking out against racism on the Korra tag is a prohibitive inconvenience to those who view themselves as the “true” fans.
Did I give the impression I was trying to comfort her? Comforting people who refuse to engage with their own racist behaviour isn’t on my list of priorities.
Keep your links. I don’t give a damn about some random deviantartist who decided to invent Norse myths. A white person who decides to invent a demonic Hindu creature is not “just making a story”; they are engaging in a long tradition of white colonization, co-opting, and appropriation of Hindu culture.
“ It’s only offensive if you try to make it so.”
That is a patently ridiculous thing to say. The whole construction of “offense” as something that people choose to feel is ridiculous, trivializing, and insulting. I didn’t MAKE her post her racist drawing, I didn’t MAKE her respond with such callous disregard.
Your friend found my response to her to be offensive. Does that mean she made it so? What kind of double standards are you proposing exactly?
As for “making the teen cry”, I can’t even take that seriously. Being told that she did something racist is the worst thing in this whole situation, right? Far worse than her actually DOING something racist, of course.
If your friend truly believes in anti-oppression, she would understand that she shouldn’t help herself to the cultures of people she has a lot of privilege over and is not a part of. She would do some research in order to present her ideas in a respectful and non-harmful manner. If she falls down on this, when called out by a member of that group, she would listen to their critique, apologize, and try not to do it again. She would attempt to grasp that it’s not just one little doodle; it’s one more fucking cavalier insult built upon hundreds of years of oppression, misrepresentation, and cultural appropriation. She would understand that she has caused pain in this exchange and that her tears are just another disgustingly common way that white women who have fucked up attempt to make themselves the victim of any situation.
Am I clear enough? Your friend has already, due to my “rudeness”, decided that she will never ever EVER bother to research the peoples and cultures she co-opts. Is that fair?
LOLOL I love how dramaticallyawesome UNIRONICALLY compares playing in Norse mythology to playing with a real, living, existing religion. A religion of over a billion people. But I guess those people don’t matter, and so their religion is actually just some fun mythology for her artist friend to play around in.
Young artists really need to understand that being an ‘ARTIST’ does not exempt them from the real world. Their thoughts and actions have consequences just like everyone else. Being an ARTIST is not a free pass to Ignorant Happy La la Magicland. In fact, being an ARTIST means you should be even more sensitive/aware of your world than the plebians around you. As an ARTIST, that’s YOUR responsibility to investigate and process and think. As an ARTIST.
im definitely following the right people because apparently supernatural season 10 premiered last night and I didn’t...
- How do we protect ourselves from the police??
They’re coming after us and we have no line of defense.